The Dangers Of Healthy Living

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"If I find Andrew Weil, I'm going to rip out his beard one hair at a time!" In this listener favorite Bluff the Listener game, Charlie Pierce, Paula Poundstone, and Roxanne Roberts tell stories of the unexpected consequences of healthy living.


With our "Bluff the Listener" segment, sometimes fiction is stranger than truth, and that seems to have happened with a game you wanted to hear again. It's from August of 2008 with panelists Roxanne Roberts, Charlie Pierce, Paula Poundstone, and guest judge and scorekeeper Corey Flintoff.


Hi, you're on WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!

M: Hey there, Peter.

SAGAL: Hey, who is this?

M: This is Jim Stotz from Conroe, Texas.

SAGAL: Conroe, Texas, where the heck is that?

M: That is one county north of Houston.

SAGAL: Can you smell Houston from there?


M: Unfortunately, sometimes, yeah, there's a fairly southerly breeze here.

SAGAL: That's great. Well, that's nice, though, a little whiff of Houston in the morning.

Well, welcome to the show, Jim. Now, you are going to play the game in which your job is to tell truth from fiction. Corey, what is Jim's topic?


"If I Find Andrew Wile, I'm Going to Rip Out his Beard One Hair at a Time."


SAGAL: Everybody is constantly offering us advice on how to live more healthy. Let's be honest: A lot of the stuff will not help at all. In fact, some of it is downright bad for you.

Our panelists are going to tell you about three stories that clearly illustrate the unexpected dangers of healthy living. We found it in this week's news. Choose that real story, you will win Carl's voice on your home answering machine. Ready to play?

M: Oh, I'll give it a try.


SAGAL: All right, first up, let's hear from Roxanne Roberts.

M: British celebrity chef Anthony Worrall Thompson had a fantastic recommendation. Henbane, he said in August's Healthy and Organic Living magazine, is quote: great in salad, really yummy.

Unfortunately, henbane - an old, Anglo-Saxon term meaning killer of hens - happens to be a very toxic weed that causes hallucinations, drowsiness, seizures, and possibly even death.


SAGAL: embarrassing, but one of those genuine mistakes. No reports of any casualties yet, but the magazine has posted a warning on its website: As always, check with an expert when foraging or collecting wild plants.


SAGAL: A lovely, organic, gathered salad that could kill you.

M: Ah.

SAGAL: Your next story of an unintended consequence of healthy living comes from Charlie Pierce.

M: The Broadway Pilates studio in Delafield, Wisconsin, was forced to destroy all its apparatus this week when students found themselves afflicted with a rash on the palms of their hands.

Studio director Wendy Bendowski(ph) mixed up a batch of moss-based organic cleanser, from an old, Native American regime, only to find that it reacted virulently with the material in the equipment, causing the rash. Now, all students have to wash their hands thoroughly, under the supervision of the studio staff, after each session - prompting Bendowski to joke that the studio will change its name to Pontius Pilates.



SAGAL: Poisoned Pilates equipment in Wisconsin. Your last story of bad ju-ju from too much tofu comes from Paula Poundstone.

M: Just say no to tea tree oil. Keith Richards was among the passengers on American Flight 72 from Boston Logan Airport to London, Heathrow, who got an unexpected free high despite the airline's recent cutback on perks.


M: When she awoke with a bit of congestion that morning, flight attendant Andrea Brant applied Vick's VapoRub to her chest. Once at the airport, Ms. Brant topped the VapoRub with tea tree oil, an herbal healing agent. This, investigators found, created an intoxicating aroma.

M: Soon after takeoff, the fumes began to affect the passengers. It was a bit like heroin, really. It was slow and then - bam, said Keith Richards.


M: Pilot Jasper Burn, secure within the cockpit, remained unaffected but suspected something odd when strains of "Beast of Burden" reached him through the cockpit door.


M: They were all singing. All I could think was, how am I going to get these buggers to put their seat backs forward, said Burn.


M: It was a bit like a hit of ecstasy, said Keith Richards.


M: A jubilant group of 10 from business class donned their floatation devices and formed a conga line, chanting cut the engines, over the Atlantic.


M: It was more sort of like a bit of Quaalude with a vodka chaser - kind of how the top of your head comes off, said Keith Richards.


M: The flight landed safely at Heathrow - really hard to come down, said Richards.



SAGAL: No, no. Paula, go on.


SAGAL: All right.


M: Was my story a little long?


SAGAL: It was, but worth every second, Paula. It was fabulous. Jim, let me review your choices for you. From Roxanne Roberts, a story about how a chef in Healthy Living magazine recommended that the readers poison themselves with ingredients for an organic salad. From Charlie Pierce, how a Pilates studio became a toxic waste dump through the use of an organic cleanser. Or from Paula Poundstone, the story of how a flight attendant's experiments with VapoRub and tea tree oil ended up pretty much sending the passengers on a trip they had not expected.


SAGAL: Which of these is the real story in the news this week?

M: Well, that Keith Richards is just a never-ending source of amusement.

SAGAL: Isn't he, though?


M: Yeah, but I'm going to choose answer A because the phrase that was used in that one, genuine mistake...

SAGAL: Genuine mistake.

M: With a British accent sounds the most genuine.

SAGAL: All right, so you're going to choose Roxanne's story about the poisonous herb being recommended for use in salads. Well, we spoke to an authority in this area, to bring you the truth.

M: We would never consider using henbane on the menu at Alinea. It's fatal.


M: Perhaps something like eye of newt.


SAGAL: That was Grant Achatz, who is the chef and owner of the award-winning restaurant Alinea, right here in Chicago, who was explaining why he would do a lot of things, but he wouldn't put henbane in his salads because it's bad for you. Congratulations, Jim, you picked the right answer.


SAGAL: Roxanne was telling the truth.

M: Thank you.

SAGAL: You earned a point for Roxanne, which I know is her greatest pleasure in this life. And you have won our game. Carl Kasell will record the greeting on your home answering machine. Congratulations, well done.

M: Thank you, sir.

SAGAL: Thank you, bye-bye.

M: All right.


SAGAL: Thank you, Carl Kasell. Thanks also to our panelists, all our fabulous guests, and thanks to all of you for listening.

I'm Peter Sagal. We will see you next week.


SAGAL: This is NPR.

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